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crux

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noun
  • most vital or difficult part of a matter, an issue, etc [Barron]
  • an essential point requiring resolution or resolving an outcome [Taisha]
  • a vital, basic, decisive, or pivotal point: The crux of the trial was his whereabouts at the time of the murder. [Webster]

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WordNet:
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MSN Encarta:
crux @ Encarta
American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language:
crux @ AHD provided by Yahoo! Education
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